(1999 February 03)

The Ruhunu Dharma Yathra organised by the Ruhunu Rata Bhikshu Peramuna and the Ruhunu Jathika Ekabaddha Peramuna is on its way to Kirinda. The Dharma Yathra commenced on the thirty first of January from the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara and will reach Kirinda on Thursday the fourth. The Dharma Yathra consists of two segments, a motorcade going through Navagamuwa, Hanwella, Angampitiya, Ingiriya, Horana, Mathugama, Horawala, Pelawatta, Udugama, Hiniduma, Akuressa, Hakmana, Walasmulla, Kirama, Katuwana, Middeniya, Panamure, Embilipitiya, Suriyawewa, Thanamalwila, Pannegamuwa, Debarawewa and Tissamaharamaya and a procession of boats passing through the harbours at Beruwala, Galle, Devundera, and Gurupokuna.

At the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, before a large gathering, anusasanas were made by a number of Ven. Bhikkus including the Ven. Madihe Pannaseha Thero, the Mahanayake Thero of the Amarapura sect, Vens. Pallaththara Sumanajothi Thero, the President of the Ruhunu Rata Bhikshu Peramuna, Aluthgama Dhammananda Thero of the Malwatte Chapter, Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thero and Prof. Bellanwila Wimalaratana Thero of the Jathika Sangha Sabha, Bengamuwe Nalaka Thero of the Deshapremi Bhikshu Peramuna and Omare Kassapa Thero the national organiser of the Ruhunu Rata Bhikshu Peramuna and the organiser of the Dharma Yathra, blessing the Dharma Yathra and the people.

The organisers have listed twenty two items as objectives of the Dharma Yathra, including the following: to induce the people, who have experienced bitter consequences by now, by being victims of unsatisfied desires, to lead a life of contentment and thereby restore the Daham Divaina (Island of Dhamma), to establish peace while preserving the historical identity of the country, to establish an economy with self sufficiency in food by developing the rural resources, to defeat the conspiracy to convert Buddhists to religious faiths, under the pretext of helping the poor, to stop the destruction of ancient shrines such as those in Dighavapi, which can be considered as another step towards destroying the Buddhist heritage in the country, to establish a system of education, replacing the present imitative alien system, compatible with culture and history of the country that can face up to the challenges of the modern world, to prevent the foreign interference which undermines the sovereignty of the country, to defeat Eelamism, to defeat the attempts of the separatist LTTE terrorists to destroy the country by killing people and destroying property, to re-establish the Buddhist state where the Sinhala nation and the ethnic groups can live unitedly and peacefully.

In a leaflet distributed by the Ruhunu Rata Bhikshu Peramuna and the Ruhunu Jathika Ekabaddha Peramuna it is said that only a nominal freedom was given by the British in 1948 and even today the important decisions are not made by our elected leaders but by the foreign non national powers.

Though comparatively on a minor scale, it was only the other day that the United States expressed concern over reports of violence over the Wayamba elections and hoped that the authorities would look into the allegations. While we condemn the violence at elections we should not allow the others however big and strong they may be to interfere in our affairs. Let us evolve our own system and solution to the problem without being told by the others what we should do. Has Sri Lanka ever said what they hoped the authorities in the US would do over the Clinton - Lewinsky affair?

Most of the problems in the country are due to the manipulations in the fields of politics, economics and culture and hence it is necessary that a freedom struggle is launched to win real independence to the country. As far as the Ruhunu Rata Bhikshu Peramuna and the Ruhunu Jathika Ekabaddha Peramuna are concerned independence can be achieved only in a Buddhist state.

There appears to be a consensus of opinion emerging among the Ven. Bhikkus that the eksesath (unitary) Buddhist state established by the king Dutugemunu should be re-established in the country. The organisers of the Dharma Yathra have selected the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara and the Kirinda Vihara as the end points of the Yathra, as they symbolise the journey of Vihara Maha Devi whose son the king Dutugemunu established for the first time the eksesath (unitary) Buddhist state in the country. It is hoped that the Dharma Yathra will induce the people to organise a national movement in order to re-establish a Buddhist state and gain independence.

As the organisers have stated in their leaflet a Buddhist state does not mean a state of the Buddhists. It is one of the most tolerant states in history, which had looked after the followers of the other religions. Following the example set by the king Dhrmashoka and the vast majority of the Buddhist kings who ruled Sri Lanka, the Ruhunu Rata Bhikshu Peramuna and the Ruhunu Jathika Ekabaddha Peramuna are of the opinion that the non Buddhists in Sri Lanka will enjoy all the rights and that they will also achieve real independence from the non nationals and live as equal citizens with dignity retaining their cultural identities in a Buddhist state established in the country.

It is well known that when the Muslims who were living in the country were threatened by the Portuguese it was the Sinhala Buddhist king Senerath who settled them in some parts of the present Eastern province. This incident, among others, goes on to prove that the present eastern province was part of the Sinhala kingdom contrary to the claims by the Tamil racists. The Catholics who were discriminated against by the Dutch were protected by the Sinhala Buddhist kings.

It has to be pointed out that the kings in Sri Lanka, not the invaders, had been Buddhists and the Buddhist state first established in Bharat by the king Dharmashoka had taken roots in Sri Lanka from the time of king Devanampiyatissa. The king Dutugemunu established the first eksesath Buddhist state and after some time it became mandatory for the kings to be Buddhists. Even the British had to give a pledge, by the 1815 convention, to protect Buddhism and rule the country according to the Sinhala law or customs (sirith). However there were strong protests especially from the Christian clergy and finally the British breached the convention. From the day the British breached the 1815 convention we have been living in a Christian state. The "independence" gained in 1948 has not changed the nature of the state drastically.

As Mrs. Kamalika Pieris has mentioned in her article on "Christian conversion and Tamil separatism" in "The Island" of 1st February, Christianity has an ugly record in Sri Lanka. The education given was Christian and was not only used as a means of conversion but as a way of thinking. The culture imparted was Christian and what we have done over the years is only to sprinkle this education with Pansil in the morning and "Yo vada tham pavaro manujesu" in the afternoon. I am thinking of the culture in which this education was created and formulated and not of the teachings of Jesus Christ, when I call it a Christian education. Bertrand Russell would have considered himself to be an atheist and written a book on "why I am not a Christian" but he was a Christian by culture. After all rationalism and empiricism are two of the corner stones of western Christian philosophy, which should not be confused with Christian theology. The fact that the education we get is Christian is amply demonstrated by the so-called Buddhist scholars among us who are hell bent on trying to interpret Buddhism in terms of categories such as rationalism and empiricism.

Some may object to a Buddhist state on the grounds that the state should be secular. Unfortunately for them there are no secular states in the world. Secularism is only a term invented by the Christian political scientists to cover up the "Christianness" of the background culture of some of the states. The westerners make use of the knowledge they create to dominate us. They try to fool us by using seemingly "neutral" terms to camouflage the culture bias of the knowledge they create. The so-called secular states are nothing but Christian states whether the rulers and the people believe in a God or not.

The westerners and their henchmen (henchwomen?) attempt to intimidate us using certain words. The "intellectuals" produced by their education are afraid to campaign for a state that is non secular as their value and recognition as "intellectuals" depend on the stand they take on this matter. On a different note, though not entirely unrelated, take the example of the use of words such as Chauvinist, especially their equivalents in Sinhala. The word "jathivadiya" is used in a derogative sense on anybody who is against federalism. As such "respected intellectuals" could be prevented from speaking or writing against federalism, even if they are for a unitary state. The values attached to words are given by the hegemonic ideology in the culture and the NGOs are being used to propagate these values. In Sri Lanka it so happens that those who destroy "dagabos" are not "jathivadiyas" but those who speak against such acts are branded as enemies of peace.

A person who campaigns for a Buddhist state may be branded as a fundamentalist in addition to being called a "jathivadiya". It is encouraging to note that the Ruhunu Rata Bhikshu Peramuna and the Ruhunu Jathika Ekabaddha Peramuna have come forward to agitate for a Buddhist state in this country in spite of many hindrances.